How to Hire Call Center Reps

Let’s talk about hiring for call center positions! I’ve hired many call center reps. The once heavily outsourced call center is making a comeback, primarily because big business knows that customers want good service and good service increases profits. The traditional call center is now being called a contact center, because of the different avenues in which a customer can connect to a business, e.g. email, tweet and instant messaging. Although the medium has changed, the premise has stayed the same – a friendly – fast – reliable – knowledgeable customer experience. How do you hire the right person, who will stick around and make an impact?

Traditionally, what makes a good call center representative? Let’s break it down:

Call Center Rep

  • Communication skills (both verbal and written): Call center analysts answer hundreds of calls per week, and they must track those call by documenting the nature and resolution of the call. This makes it imperative that they are able to listen and communicate with a wide variety of callers, on a variety of issues and provide customer service.
  • Multi-tasking: One must be able to answer a call, annotate a tracking system, while figuring out the best resolution.
  • Analytical Skills: A call center representative must be a problem solver. One must have the ability to break down a problem and find the best answer in a timely fashion.
  • Detailed Oriented: Most jobs require attention to detail but in the call center it’s amplified because one wrong, misused or missing word or step could cause a different problem. Poor documentation could lead to duplicate work, and future training process tougher
  • Punctuality: Call center reps are under extreme scrutiny when it comes to punctuality, tardiness and absenteeism. They have very little leeway when it comes to lateness.

What if I showed you some new assessment metrics show that the most important quality or trait to look for in a call center employee is a creative type. Yes, creativity is the best personality trait for customer service reps because individuals with high creativity scores tend to stay around longer than other traits, most notably, inquisitive types.

In the The Wall Street Journal’s “Meet the the New Boss: Big Data,” Joseph Walker details how Xerox is scaling the emphasis on personality and creativity when making mass hiring decisions:

“After a half-year trial that cut attrition by a fifth, Xerox now leaves all hiring for its 48,700 call-center jobs to software that asks applicants to choose between statements like: “I ask more questions than most people do” and “People tend to trust what I say.”

Xerox determined that personality was the most telling indicator of who would not stay working at their call centers. Because a high percentage of call center employees (relative to other professions) quit in the first six months, hiring for personality dramatically increased the ROI not only on their recruitment budget but also their $5,000 per employee training investment.

Why does creativity work? Because creative people find unique ways to solve problems. They are less likely to be frustrated by the daily issues of their callers and more likely to try to figure out ways to solve them. They look at customer service issues as new challenges. The variety of the calls, complaints and problems are exciting to them. It allows them to resolve problems and exceed customer expectations.

So go ahead and add interview questions which gage applicant’s creativity to your screening process and put creativity at the top of your list of desirable personality traits.


chris fields Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work. Connect with Chris via email at

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Chris Fields Human Resources Consultant, Resume Crusade Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work & ResumeCrusade.
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